You can’t go back to the Garden

You may not be able to get back to the garden, but you can buy your merch here!

It is difficult to get into the reasons why the 50th anniversary of Woodstock was cancelled this year, but it was set to go on the 16th of August. For that, you have to avoid the major networks and newspapers, and that means CBC, CTV, The Globe and Mail, CNN and the New York Times. The major media is not that much invested in the politicking and intrigue underlying the music business.

It is so much better to give a detailed read of the trade publications themselves, because, they can’t get it wrong, or be vague if a little more research or a few more interviews would give the story more flesh. What Billboard and Variety magazines provide is a much more sobering read about the ill-fated concert. I even got quite an education just from reading the comment section of Billboard, which is more than I could say for the journalists in the major media who are trying to make a living on stories like this.

It is a story of organizers getting screwed by promoters, venue changes when the old one couldn’t be secured, a lack of planning (apparently, very little thought to security or how to manage vehicle traffic into or out of a concert which had a target attendance of over 160,000).

Billboard is where I learned that, as a condition of performing at a large venue such as a theatre or stadium, many performers have a “radius clause” imposed on them, meaning that they could not have any concerts within a certain radius of the venue they signed up for. If these performers were performing, say in Virginia, or any place along the middle part of the American Eastern Seaboard, they had to cancel their Woodstock appearance when it was announced that Woodstock was being moved from Bethel, New York to Maryland.

Alas, it was not to be, and seven hours ago, the organizers cancelled Woodstock’s 50th anniversary altogether.

Woodstock 50 was to have among its lineup, original acts such as Santana, Canned Heat, David Crosbie, Melanie, John Sebastian, John Fogerty, Country Joe MacDonald and Hot Tuna (two members of Hot Tuna are from what used to be Jefferson Airplane); and a big name from “classic rock”: Robert Plant; and then a lot of “cool” modern performers, such as Pussy Riot, The Black Keys, and Brandi Carlile. It is not clear that Miley Cyrus fit the general theme of a concert like Woodstock 50, and many thought that by admitting her and some others, that organizers had diverged from the peace/love/positive vibe that they should have been conveying.

This is a parody by Christopher Guest for the National Lampoon in the early 1970s.

Suspicious youtube channels

I have been noticing over the past years, a couple of suspicious YouTube channels. For the past number of years, a number of fairly lefty videocasts, such as the news/comedy program Redacted Tonight seems to have “RT” as the provider of these rather polished video shows. “RT” is the video network Russia Today, based in Moscow, with offices and studios in Washington, DC. While the views expressed on Redacted Tonight fell within a certain tolerance a few decades ago, the views nowadays would be considered to be on the “far left”. I stop short of saying “radical left”, since this phrase is often uttered with an insufficient understanding of the word “radical”, and I don’t feel it applies to this program.

Below, host Lee Camp speaks on behalf of himself and the other creators of Redacted Tonight in a video posted last year as to the reasons why they chose RT as the vehicle for their comedy programs:

In his rather unusual way, Lee Camp has a point. No other major commercial media outlet would fund or support programming that would utter content that is critical of the military, corporate America, or their agenda. This would make us into aware participants of democracy, which goes agains what corporate America wants. They want us to be consumers. We can “vote” with our dollars for various products, not that the anticompetitive practices we have come to tolerate even provide us with a worthwhile choice between products.

Well, there are a lot of outlets that can provide the same thing as as what Camp claims RT is doing, and there is no reason why Camp and company could not start their own YouTube channel. However, it might mean that they would have to forego the flashy trappings of the RT studio. Because, that is what it means to be an alternative voice. Alternative voices are usually not well-funded, and don’t consist of a wall of multiple monitors, and a staff of layout artists, animators, cameramen, and sound engineers. Redacted Tonight would be considered small-budget for major media, but for “alternative voices”, such professional team efforts would be out of reach financially.

The question then becomes, how is programming from people such as Lee Camp benefitting Russia Today? Why would the Russians want to cause us to question our corporations and military? While I have watched enough of Redacted to form an opinion of whether they are disinforming us (it’s not obvious if it is), it is still consistent with the Russian penchant for sowing societal division through social media. However, it is barely perceptible by YouTube standards, since their videos typically garner not much more than 60,000 views, hardly a force to be reckoned with at the moment. They do have over 200,000 subscribers as of this viewing. To put that in perspective, one of my faviourite “math nerd” channels, 3Blue1Brown, has close to 2 million subscribers.

I wouldn’t normally feel this was that much worth writing about if it were not for the fact that there is another channel from another oligarchic nation. This time, China. CGTN is the China Global Television Network. They too have an American outlet, CGTN America, which is also in Washington DC. Of the few news videos I watched, I would characterize CGTN as more like the BBC in its reporting of foreign (American) stories, with not a whole lot of comedy competitive with Stephen Colbert, let alone Redacted Tonight.

An attempt to re-think the block editor

Due to some plugin problems, I deleted nearly all plugins now and am cautiously rebuilding the site. This is now another chance to check out the features of the block editor.

I had complained that there were toolbar problems with the editor that support groups have construed to be a problem with plugin conflicts. So, I now have a chance to, without plugins (except akismet), see how the editor is really supposed to behave. And the absence of plugins makes a positive difference.

Below is a video I have embedded from YouTube to show as a proof of concept that you tube plugins can be loaded with only the native code. It is one of my more recent videos.

In the coming weeks, I will be attempting to restore functionality to the website. Note that there are certain articles which have missing images. There are several images that need replacing, but most of the images have already been restored, especially for the old articles.

Notes on Free Speech — Only for some?

I have been conflicted over the idea that, in the name of free dialogue and advancing discussion of topics of social and political import, that some university campuses have banned certain speakers from talking at their campus. Of course, this has been going on for decades.

Most people (such as I) react incredulously to such totalitarian measures, and dismiss this as academics having their heads in the clouds to the point that they have become out of touch with the meaning of their own rhetoric (is it possible to advocate free speech while banning people from speaking?). But so too, I have had the experience of people (on a personal level) whose dialog is toxic to frank discussion.

Related image
From: XKCD Comics (https://xkcd.com/261/). Under the Creative Commons license v 2.5 (Attribution-Non-commercial-Generic). These comics may be copied and shared but not sold.

There is the kind of rhetoric that is intended to shut down open discussion of issues. It ranges from hate speech to science discussions to discussions about sex. We have banned free speech over several internet media, the most famous kind of banning has to do with “Godwin’s Law”, which unfortunately specifically targets references or comparisons with Adolf Hitler. I think the spirit of the intent of forum moderators invoking it was (or should be) to ban speech which is designed to intimidate others from expressing themselves, that is, creating a toxic environment designed to shut down opposition rather than enable them to fully express themselves and be heard. Views are not shared, because sharing views is no longer safe.

 

Quote of the day – found on these here Interwebs

I was not a fan of Big Bang Theory (as I don’t watch a whole lot of TV), so I found this end card to one of their episodes, which apparently flashed for a couple of seconds. The quote is below, if you can’t read the image.

“Don’t be fooled. Big daddy can’t save us. Our salvation lies within ourselves. Within our own ingenuity and determined effort. ‘Make America great again’ is a bumper sticker for victimhood,” Lorre writes, referencing Trump’s campaign slogan. “But we are not victims. We are the creators of opportunity. Sure the system’s rigged. It always has been. So what?! We are a nation of immigrants who have consistently ignored the rigging. You won’t let us join your club? %#&@ you, we’ll start our own club. You won’t let us go to your school? %#&@ you, we’ll start our own school. You won’t let us earn money your way? %#&@ you, we’ll earn it our way. You won’t give us a chance here? %#&@ you, we will go elsewhere. You want to know what makes America great? I got two words for you.”

— Chuck Lorrie (Big Bang Theory)

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Title translation: life, according to spam email

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Translation: these are subject lines of emails i have received recently

Yeah, this will be difficult reading. These email subject lines were actually fed through the “L337 Speak Converter” at www.brenz.net. Consider this to be a test of your “Leet” (L337) translation skillz 🙂

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Electability

There has been, in recent elections, a new word that adds to the rhetoric of the role of the media in telling us what to think and helping to shape the outcomes of elections, whether wittingly or unwittingly. “Electability” is a subjective term, taken, I suppose, to mean that the platform and views held by the candidate have what the media deems to be a dose of reality and pragmatism. So, no dreamers, no idealists, definitely no socialists, but no fascists either (although Trump comes close to the latter).

Isn’t the concept of “electability” just another way of deciding an election before the ballots are cast? Why do discussions like this even exist, if it were not for the promotion of one candidate over another? Not sure why Biden is being picked on, I am not partial to him, myself; but I think that some things need to be left to the minds of the voters, and not tell them what to think. I shouldn’t care about “electable”; I should only care if a candidate shares my views and supports policies that affect “me”.

Electability, in the context of the 2020 American elections, begins to sound too much like being careful not to upstage Trump and for the Democrats to return to the role of Greek Chorus to Trump’s every new outrageous distraction.

Why I am glad I don’t have cable TV

In the early nineties, Bruce Springsteen had a hit with the song “57 Channels and Nothing On”. It was the precursor to the same feeling we felt over the “500 channel universe” we experience today.

I have no cable by choice. I can afford to put it in, but apart from educational channels and the news station, I really have little to no interest in what passes for entertainment, and, frankly, no time to sit down and watch what appears to be mostly pointless programming spread out over hundreds of television stations. Here is a small list of programming explaining why I feel this way.

  • My 600-lb life (and related TV shows)
    • A century and a half ago, we locked up anyone who was a freak in a cage and charged admission for patrons to pass by, point, and either express shock, or laugh at them. I see this programming is kind of like that.
    • Ah, the life and escapades of the morbidly obese. I am doubtful that any show that depicts the private hell of individuals (whatever the problem is), when it is presented as “reality TV”, is helpful to the individual whose problem is being flaunted for TV ratings, nor is it helpful to anyone watching the show who shares the same problem, as that is not effectively the reason this show is being broadcast. Shows like this are effectively human suffering, served up as lighthearted entertainment.
  • Faux News
    • From pie charts that add up to more than 100 per cent, to unapologetic right-wing bias, the secret to Faux News high ratings is sensationalism and incendiary reporting.
    • And when it isn’t racist, it is merely cheerleading for Republicans and very nearly their every wrong move. It is a more socially-acceptable version of InfoWars (or is it In-Faux-Wars?).
  • The Bachelor/Bachelorette
  • Real Housewives
    • Real housewives? What does that mean? Purportedly married but dressed as if they are single and hot to trot, this is now a franchise of blondes, brunettes and redheads who more or less look and dress alike, and are nowadays from all parts of the United States, ready to make you feel like you don’t belong. Face it, you don’t look like them, you can’t afford to dress like them, you also probably can’t afford the houses they live in. They are not real in any sense that matters to most viewers.
    • The franchise consists of “Real Housewives of ” <fill in the name of an American city>. Every time I think I have a complete list of cities, I always find one more not in my list. The last one I found was “Atlanta”. Atlanta was notable because most of the ladies were black. I doubt that you are going to hear about racial inequality in a way that broadens or enhances the discussion. They dressed and appeared to live more lavishly than any woman of colour I know.
    • These are the stories of domesticated dramas. Whether it is about unmarried people on the make, or married women (who cares about married men?), don’t expect too many challenges to traditional stereotypes, or to the norms of sexual roles we have all come to accept. Wake me up if there are any surprises, since I don’t expect any. You might expect surprises that are there for shock value, such as the guy finding out that she was a he, or whatever.
  • Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo
    • Time to clear the room
  • 'American Pickers' Season 2 premiere on History Channel ...History Channel
    • There is not much actual history on this channel
  • Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire/Multi-Millionaire/etc.
    • And this is because, indeed, the only thing on a woman’s mind is marrying for money.
    • Notice how I am writing as if it is understood that the millionaire is a man, and that the ones chasing him are women; not the other way around.
    • There is some scientific basis supporting the fact that, in nearly all cultures, women tend to choose a man who is financially secure for their husband, and this is even independent of culture worldwide. In addition, the reverse is true far less often.
  • Dr. Pimple Popper
    • About the only doctor Americans can afford without the Affordable Healthcare programme.
    • Again, it’s the kind of programme which makes you question what you are doing with your spare time. And the depressing reality is that the 500 channel universe is filled with such vapidity and emptiness, that there is probably nothing else on.
  • Project Blue Book
    • This is one of the reasons that anyone who likes history has found to their disappointment that the History Channel no longer discusses anything about history. Project Blue Book is about UFOs.
  • Pawn Stars. You Could Learn A Thing Or Two.Pawn Stars
  • Rust Valley Restorers
  • The Antique Road Show
    • Pawn Stars and Rust Valley Restorers are both on the History Channel, and The Antique Road Show is on PBS. The Antique Road Show gives a better history education.
    • One line you will never hear on the Antique Road Show, regarding something like a curious object bought at a garage sale for $100: “Why does this say ‘Made in Taiwan?'”. Or, regarding an heirloom passed down for several generations: “I don’t know what it is. Well, at least it has sentimental value. Have a nice day.”
  • Lego City
    • It’s pretty bad when we mistrust the imaginations of children with toys so much that toy companies feel the need to sponsor cartoons which depict a universe made of toys from one manufacturer.
    • I suppose that nowadays the idea of children playing with toys from different manufacturers is now regarded as an anti-competitive practice.
  • The “W” Channel
    • used to be “women’s network”
    • of 58 titles listed in their annual lineup of shows and movies, 42 cover the themes of marriage and romance
    • Feminist? One show if you count “Ms. Matched” — still a marriage theme, because that’s all women think about, apparently, especially in this small-screen movie. I think only the “Ms.” in the title makes it appear feminist.
  • Much
    • Was “Much Music”, but is now minus most of its music videos.

The indices of Harper’s Magazine

I have been a fan of Harper’s Magazine since the 1980s. In particular, I loved the Readings section, as well as the factoids list (with citations) known as Harper’s Index, near the front of each issue. Here are 100 factoids I’ve researched from over the years, dates not important, but they have been taken from issues since 2000. I have favoured factoids that are not dated, but that was difficult as many good ones with dates crept in. The URL for Harper’s magazine is http://harpers.org, and is available on some newsstands, but not as many these days as in days previous.

  • Cost to produce Safeguard, the only U.S. ground-based long-range missile shield ever deployed: $23,500,000,000
  • Number of days in the 1970s that the system was operational before it was abandoned as inadequate: 135
  • Pounds of fuel required to maintain this year’s 11,500 Olympic torches: 2,029
  • Ratio of the amount of energy generated by 1 gallon of ethanol to the amount of energy required to produce it : 1:0.9
  • Number of times Colin Powell said, “I don’t recall” or, “I can’t recall” during his 1987 Iran-Contra testimony: 56
  • Percentage of global economic activity accounted for by the world’s 200 largest corporations: 27.5
  • Percentage of the world’s population that these corporations employ: 0.8
  • Minimum number of mentally retarded Americans who have been executed by the justice system since 1976 : 35
  • Estimated chance that a U.S. prisoner is mentally retarded: 1 in 14
  • Days after Time named George W. Bush 2000’s man of the year that Russians named Vladimir Lenin man of the century: 4
  • Places by which Russia’s ranking in the U.N.’s Human Development Index of living standards has fallen since 1990 : 31
  • Rank of the United States and Britain among nations whose residents are most likely to be obese: 1,2
  • Rank of Hungary: 3
  • Ratio of the number of pardons George W. Bush has issued turkeys to those he has issued human beings: 2:1
  • Ratio of the average life span of a commercially bred turkey to that of a wild one: 1:7
  • Year in which Disney’s Mickey Mouse copyright will expire if the Supreme Court reverses a 1998 extension this winter (2002): 2003
  • Minutes that a Massachusetts surgeon left a patient with an open incision while he went to deposit a check: 35
  • Percentage change since 1990 (to 2003) in the number of U.S. schoolchildren labeled “disabled” : +37
  • Chances that a U.S. adult does not want to live to be 120 under any circumstances: 2 in 3
  • Chance that an American adult believes that “politics and government are too complicated to understand” : 1 in 3
  • Chance that an American who was home-schooled feels this way: 1 in 25
  • Acreage of a Christian nudist colony under development in Florida (in 2004): 240
  • Percentage of the 13,129 varieties of dirt in the United States that are endangered: 4
  • Years in prison to which two ex-Pentagon officials were sentenced last year for taking bribes of money and prostitutes: 24
  • Number of years a North Carolina man has been in prison for stealing a television: 33
  • Rank, on the Turkish bestseller list in March (2005), of a thriller depicting a U.S. invasion of Turkey: 1
  • Rank of Mein Kampf: 2
  • Average percentage by which the power of the male heart declines between the ages of 18 and 75 : 20
  • Average percentage by which the female heart does: 0
  • Amount a Chinese online gamer made last year (in 2004) by selling a virtual sword he had borrowed from a friend: $850
  • Months later that the friend retaliated by stabbing him to death with a real knife: 6
  • Number of beetles that right-wing entomologists have named after Bush Administration officials: 3
  • Number of times that Mary, Jesus’ mother, is referenced by name in the Bible and the Koran, respectively: 19,34
  • Number of “Wal-ocaust” T-shirts sold by a Georgia man before Wal-Mart ordered him to cease and desist: 1
  • Ratio, in the United States, of the number of Wal-Mart employees to the number of high school teachers: 1:1
  • Portion of states where the projected climate in 2100 will not be able to sustain their official tree or flower: 3/5
  • Number of words spoken by Clarence Thomas during Supreme Court oral arguments since February 2006 (until Aug 2007): 132
  • Number by Samuel Alito, the Justice who spoke the second-fewest words: 14,404
  • Percentage of single U.S. women in their twenties who are “very” or “extremely” willing to marry for money: 61
  • Percentage of women in their thirties who are : 74
  • Percentage change since 1985 (to 2009) in the number of U.S. newspapers with reporters covering Congress : –72
  • Percentage of six- to nine-year-old American girls (in 2009) who wear lipstick or lip gloss : 46
  • Number of poppyseed bagels that could be made with Afghanistan’s annual poppy harvest : 357,000,00
  • Percentage of British elementary-school students who think Isaac Newton discovered fire : 60
  • Number of U.S. states that have more pigs than people : 3
  • Minimum number of birds that die from crashing into New York City windows each year : 100,000
  • Number of Bentleys purchased in Russia in 2000 and in 2010, respectively : 0, 113
  • Estimated portion of registered voters in Zimbabwe who are dead : 1/4
  • Average minutes more exercise per week that a heavy drinker gets than a non-drinker : 21
  • Portion of the total U.S. corn crop that goes to make ethanol : 2/5
  • Projected worldwide surplus of low-skill workers by 2020 : 93,000,000
  • Projected worldwide deficit of high- and medium-skill workers by that time : 85,000,000
  • Rank of China among global beer producers by volume : 1
  • Rank of the United States : 2
  • Percentage change since 1988 (to 2012) in U.S. teen-pregnancy rates : –36
  • In abstinence rates among white teens : +31
  • Among black teens : +56
  • Portion of Americans who don’t walk for at least ten continuous minutes at any point in an average week : 2/5
  • Percentage of American cats that are overweight : 58
  • Percentage of men in dual-income marriages who said they struggled with work-family conflict in 1977 : 35
  • Who say they do today (2013): 60.
  • Average annual cost of detaining an inmate at the military prison at Guantánamo Bay : $900,000
  • At a supermax prison in the United States : $65,000
  • Portion of all online advertising that is never seen by a human being : 1/2
  • Percentage of U.S. children in 1960 who lived in households headed by heterosexuals in their first marriage : 73
  • Who do today (2015) : 46
  • Estimated minimum gallons of water used annually to produce Coca-Cola products : 8,000,000,000,000
  • Ratio of money spent by Britons on prostitution to that spent on hairdressing : 1:1
  • Years in prison to which a New Mexico man was sentenced last year (in 2015) for shooting children with a semen-filled squirt gun : 18
  • Estimated number of people who will be driven into extreme poverty by 2030 because of climate change : 100,000,000
  • Percentage of the world’s civilian-owned firearms that are owned by Americans : 48
  • Number of Americans aged 60 and older who have outstanding student loans : 2,800,000
  • Portion of those borrowers who have taken on debt to pay for a child or grandchild’s education : 3/4
  • Percentage of children’s toys available in Sweden that contain banned chemicals : 15
  • Of sex toys available in Sweden : 2
  • Average number of people who die in avalanches in the United States each year : 27
  • Number of FBI confidential informants (in 2017) who worked for Best Buy’s Geek Squad between 2008 and 2012 : 8
  • Rank of Nebraska among states with the least liked state flags : 1
  • Number of days in January that the flag at the state capitol flew upside down before anyone noticed : 7
  • Number of US states in which fluorescent pink is a legal color for hunting apparel : 6
  • Chance an American has taken an “active shooter” preparedness class : 1 in 10
  • Percentage of US “active shooters” from 2000 to 2016 who were killed by police : 21
  • Who were killed by armed civilians : 1
  • Number of universities in which half of all the US tenured and tenure-track history professors are trained : 8
  • Number of the twenty largest German companies that are headquartered in the former East Germany : 0
  • Rank of Germany in consumption of nonalcoholic beer : 2
  • Of Iran : 1
  • Portion of Hawaii’s drinking water that comes from underground wells : 9/10
  • Gallons of raw sewage that leak into the ground from Hawaii cesspools each day : 53,000,000
  • Percentage change since 2009 in reports of human waste on San Francisco streets (in 2018): +391
  • Chance that a given day is a public holiday in Cambodia : 1 in 13
  • Rank of Disneyland among the happiest places on earth, according to Disneyland : 1
  • Percentage of Disneyland employees who worry about being evicted from their homes : 56
  • Number of dead people Americans have elected to Congress : 6
  • Factor by which a millennial is more likely than a baby boomer to claim they have a food allergy : 2
  • Number of states that allow roadkill to be salvaged for food : 31
  • Rank of Arabic among France’s most spoken languages : 2
  • Factor by which graduate students are more likely to experience depression or anxiety than the general population : 6
  • Percentage of Americans aged 18 to 34 who say they’d like to live forever : 24
  • Of Americans over 55 : 13

Crappy Album Covers: A New Day #331: Rednecks and plain folks

Michel Gerard Joseph Colucci (1944-1986), best known as Colouche, was a French comedian. Apparently, as part of his satire, he once ran for French President back in 1980, with support from the satirical publication Charlie Hebdo. One campaign slogan went: “Before me, France was divided in two; now it will be doubled over into four” (the idiom “être plié en quatre,” can be translated as “doubled over laughing.”) At the time, he was up against François Mitterrand, who was very un-amused.

The problem with this concept, is that it is over-done, since a Googling of “Jesus sightings at Wal-Mart” yield over 400,000 hits.  Some are links to video blogs, or more traditional blogs where His likeness shows up on a Wal-Mart receipt. Rick Leland has even written a “Jesus at Wal-Mart” trilogy, on sale now at GoodReads, stretching the meme to its ultimate 750-page futility (a rough page total of the three books).

The answer to the perennial question “What would Jesus do?”, according to these consistent, and persistent findings by many and sundry people, is that He would shop at Wal-Mart. And if Jesus had His way, Wal-Mart would be renamed Jesus Christ Superstore. That wasn’t exactly my image of Him, but I guess we must respect each other’s freedom of religion.

The website eddiebrumley.com is inactive, and other information on Brumley is very hard to obtain at the time of this writing.

 

This was the fourth album by Rockabilly artist and Cincinnati native Don Youngblood. He had a fan club headquartered in Indiana. He sings and plays piano, and for the life of me, I can’t find the year of this album, although I saw a vinyl copy on sale at Amazon for around 12 bucks.

Brumley, I found Jesus at a Wal-Mart. To put the correct sense on this tune, Brumley was witnessed to at Wal-Mart. It is not far-fetched to say that Brumley’s near-empty kitchen pantry needed divine intervention, and that’s kind of what he is singing about:

Coverage by the failing New York Times (and nearly everyone else)

While I sip on my Covfefe, I find that the New York Times has already declared that Trump will lose the 2020 race. To be sure, Trump’s popularity is tanking, but that’s also what the press said before the 2016 race. I don’t consider this fake news, just premature news.

Like in the 2016 election, I wonder if this prognostication of Trump’s 2020 demise, albeit based on very real unpopularity, is still premature. I notice that there are not a whole lot of Republican opportunists sensing a vacuum and denouncing Trump to take the leadership for themselves. Why is that happening? I am sensing that Republicans, despite some rumblings, are getting a different message, and are still throwing their support behind Trump despite, as the Times reports, the lowest polling for a sitting president in 70 years or so.

Also, why aren’t more notable opponents running for the leadership of the Democrats?

A whole lot of the media coverage smells funny surrounding Trump, according to an analysis by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). For example, has anyone read any media reports as to why the figure $5.7 billion is touted as being needed to build the wall/slats/barrier/whatchamacallit along the Tex-Mex border? Why that amount? How are they spending it? Where did that number come from, outside of Trump’s declaration-by-fiat that that is what it will cost? Why was that figure unchanged after Trump changed the material from concrete to steel slats? The media appears silent on all of this. These are not minor questions, these are at the heart of the reason for the longest government shutdown in American history.

For those of us who read this news, it would be a good question to ponder: how does this premature prognostication help the far right?

Exactly how valuable to the Republicans is this “base” they like to appeal to so much? Why is this “base” not being abandoned without a second thought?

Crappy Album Covers: A New Day #330: All folked up with mistaken identities

Yes, indeedie … This is the 330th CAC article, collect them all! More to follow. I will try to make these once per week:

The person in this picture does not want to be folked with. Channeling The Clash, the album has all of the visual cues of the London Calling album. Except the guitar, of course.

Not a whole lot of info exists on this incarnation of Emerald. Emerald appears as both a folk group and a metal group. The metal group appears online in some detail but this album doesn’t exist in the discographies I have seen for the “metal” group called Emerald.

That being said, this 2006 album is still for sale on Amazon, Spotify, iTunes, and all the other usual suspects.

Alvis Wayne (1937-2013) seems to be a victim of mixed identities. Someone asks him his name, he says “Alvis”, and the other responds “Oh, hi, Elvis!”; and then he has to correct them, and he finds himself all but handing out a pronunciation key: “That’s Alvis, with an ‘A’.” The other responds with “Elvis isn’t spelled with an ‘A’, what are you talking about?” Facepalm.

Apparently, this Texan hit it big in the UK, and his singles and albums were in high demand. His most recent LP, “Proud of My Rockabilly”, was released in 2001.

The Currie Brothers didn’t get Emerald’s memo. Instead, they are folking around with their accordions. Another victim of mistaken identity, there is currently another band in central Ontario that goes by the same name, also a folk band.

The Hot Stuff LP has been out for some 42 years now. I see a copy currently on e-Bay for about $25.00. Around the 1970s, Jim and Tom Currie won the Scottish Championship for accordion. According to Discogs, recordings of these two exist as late as 2015.

 

 

Blogging about blogging: Block editor in wordpress

WordPress, written in PHP, is the lingua franca of the blogging world.

This is a mini-review about the new block editor in WordPress. The block editor is a new feature with this full-version upgrade in the WordPress blogging environment. Block editing is thought of in such grand terms by the WordPress programmers, that they have called it Gutenberg, after the first printing press. It replaces a more conventional editor, which has not posed me a problem in the past, and thus I see this editor as an attempt to fix things that were never broken.

When I write a blog article, my subject matter takes clear precedence over the tools I use. I do not wish to spend hours learning new ways of creating articles (which were already being created with the “old” tools and posing no problem) when really I ought to be concentrating on my writing. I am sure my audience, and most audiences, don’t care about what tools I used to edit an article; they just want to do a bit of reading and browsing.

My use of the editor caused many things to break from its first use. I had lengthy articles turn into a pea soup of words and images where the structure was broken. This, apparently, is due to a broken plugin I have somewhere, or something like that, I was told by a forum moderator. I disabled some plugins, and tried to get in with the “new mindset” that this new block editor is supposed to encourage. I look on with suspicion things which cause features to break which were not previously a problem.

In this new environment, all articles are thought of in terms of entities called “blocks”. As I understand it, a paragraph, a section of text, an image and a video, can all be separate blocks. Each block can be moved about, and edited separately. This is not well-implemented, as I had encountered toolbars pushing text out of the way, changing the visual quality from the way that it would end up when you read it. Toolbars would also have buttons turn up in strange places, and sometimes, I was not given the option to edit the code to add such formatting as text color, since the button allowing it was missing. In other cases, I would get multiple toolbars (toolbars would not disappear when I left a block), some HTML code would not be properly parsed, and instead bare HTML code would be shown in visual mode. Sometimes it would correct itself after some jiggery-pokery with the mouse and some buttons on the toolbar, but overall I found it tiresome, and symptomatic of a system that has not been well thought-out.

As a result, I have done what many bloggers have done, and disabled Gutenberg and gone back to the conventional editor that was there before. This feature, however, is a plugin, rather than part of the codebase. The plugin has a simple enough name: “Disable Gutenberg”.

I have never considered other blogging platforms, since Worpdress does the job so well, but I have heard more than once that other platforms have arisen that have newfangled ways to put a blog article together, such as Medium and Ghost. This apparently caused the world’s largest blogging platform (WordPress) to fear for its dominanace, and, consequently they needed to cobble together some new tools that would make it relevant to new bloggers deciding on what platform to use. The bug in the old code is not rooted in the code itself, but in the insecurity of the coders who program the platform. To anyone who is already blogging using WordPress, this is irrelevant. We don’t care about Medium or Ghost, we only care about writing our articles. It also on principle, should be irrelevant to most of the coders, who are largely volunteers on a huge open source project, and are mostly unpaid. I believe WordPress makes their money from owners of web servers who act as host to WordPress blogging environments such as GoDaddy, and I would imagine they don’t want to lose those accounts. So the rest of us who chose WordPress are made to suffer for a conflict that does not really involve us.

In Memoriam, 2018

4 Jan Ray Thomas (vocalist, flautist for The Moody Blues) 76

Thomas Bopp

5 Jan Thomas Bopp (amateur astronomer; co-discovered comet Hale-Bopp) 68

5 Jan John Young (Apollo 16) 87

13 Jan Jeremy Inkel, Canadian musician (Front Line Assembly, Left Spine Down), 34.

Stan Hovdebo

14 Jan Stan Hovdebo (Canadian MP), age 92. Hovdebo served as the MP for Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, and then of Saskatoon between 1979 and 1993. He succeeded John Diefenbaker in the Prince Albert riding representing the NDP.

19 Jan Dorothy Malone (Actress: Peyton Place, Basic Instinct), 93

19 Jan Alison Shearmur (film producer: Hunger Games, Rogue One, Cinderella), 54

20 Jan John Coleman (co-founder of The Weather Channel) 83

25 Jan Tommy Banks (Canadian Jazz musician, Senator) 81

Mort Walker

27 Jan Mort Walker (Cartoonist: Beetle Bailey, Hi and Lois) Made a lifetime career in cartoons  94

4 Feb John Mahoney (Frasier) 77 

Arthur Black

21 Feb Arthur Black (CBC Radio’s Basic Black) One of the wittiest radio hosts I have heard from. He was a joy to listen to, and made me look forward to Saturday when he would come on CBC. Age 74.

Billy Graham

21 Feb Billy Graham (Teleevangelist) While I did not sense that Billy Graham was speaking to any particular branch of Christianity, his crusades were hard to turn away from when they came on TV, regardless of your religion. When he spoke, you listened, all the way to the end. He was pastor to American presidents and politicians. Age 99

David Ogden Stiers

3 Mar David Ogden Stiers (M*A*S*H). Stiers was the arrogant, abrasive, surgeon which grew on us some time into the MASH series. Age 75

4 Mar Roger Bannister (first to break the 4-minute mile) 88

7 Mar Gary Burden (Album cover designer: After the Gold Rush, Deja Vu) 84

10 Mar Hubert de Givenchy (Givenchy clothing line) 91

Nokie Edwards (front)

12 Mar Nokie Edwards (Lead Guitarist for The Ventures, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2008) 82

14 Mar Adrian Lamo (Computer Hacker, LGBTQ activist, Wikileaks, exposed Chelsea Manning) 37

Stephen Hawking

14 Mar Stephen Hawking (Physicist, writer, lecturer). I don’t know if I need bragging rights to say that, yes, I had actually read all of A Brief History of Time. It was an easy read, a testimony to Hawking’s clarity of thought, but if you never tried to read it, you wouldn’t know, and many who never tried, usually assume that it is a difficult read. I urge anyone who is curious about the universe and had simply assumed that it would be difficult, to go to your library and crack open a copy and read for yourself. Aged 76.

Peter and wife Melanie

28 Mar Peter Munk (Cdn philanthropist, Barrick Gold) Remembered mostly for the Munk Debates on CBC Radio, which regularly happen at the University of Toronto. Aged 90.

Stephen Bochco

2 Apr Stephen Bochco (producer, Hill Street Blues, and NYPD Blue). Bochco had revolutionized the Police Drama serial with these two series. They got into the lives of the police officers, and showed them as conflicted, imperfect, but still doing their jobs. There was a definite change in the kinds of cop shows both before and after Hill Street Blues, produced by anyone.  Aged 74.

4 Apr Ron White (Cdn actor, Republic of Doyle) Played organized crook Vick Saul in several installments of Republic of Doyle. Aged 64.

5 Apr Tim O’Connor (Peyton Place, General Hospital) 90

7 Apr Don Pitts (Talent agent – Orson Welles, Casey Kasem, Mel Blanc) 90

Harry Anderson

16 Apr Harry Anderson (Dave’s World, Night Court). Played the starring role in Night Court as judge Harry Stone. Aged 65.

Barbara Bush

17 Apr Barbara Bush (American First Lady and Second Lady) 92

1 May Robert B. Kennedy (Mass. House of Representatives) 78

10 May Terje Larsen “The Wanderer” (convicted serial burglar) 60

12 May Kevin Tierney (Film producer: Bon Cop/Bad Cop, The Trotsky) 67

13 May Margot Kidder (activist, actor – Superman, Black Christmas, Amityville Horror) 69

15 May Tom Wolfe (Journalist, novelist) 88

16 May Joseph Campanella (actor – Days of Our Lives, Mannix) 92

American Stamp, 1973

19 May Robert Indiana I had always wondered who was responsible for the “LOVE” logo, famous since the 1970s. He also designed sculptures containing lesser-known four-letter words, such as HEAL and HOPE. His Love sculpture is sufficiently famous to have earned itself a commemmorative American stamp in 1973. Aged 89.

Philip Roth

22 May Philip Roth (Author: Portnoy’s Complaint, American Pastoral, The Human Stain). Portnoy’s Complaint was a huge success, and was much analyzed in its day. His novels challenged our views on sexuality, and what it means to be American. Aged 85.

28 May Dick Tuck (American political prankster) 94

Paul Boyer

2 Jun Paul Boyer (American biochemist, 1997 Nobel Prize) Elucidated the mechanisms for ATP (adenosine triphosphate) syntheis. He also won the Nobel Prize in 1997. Age 99.

Nick Meglin

2 Jun Nick Meglin (Mad magazine writer/editor). It was said that he provided a lot of the voice and satirical humor that was Mad magazine. Aged 82.

3 Jun Kent McRay (Producer: Bonanza, Little House on the Prairie) 89

5 Jun Kate Spade (New York Fashion Designer) 55

Danny Kirwan

8 Jun Danny Kirwan (Fleetwood Mac guitarist). Guitarist for Fleetwood Mac from 1968-71, and contributor to four of their albums. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. Aged 68

8 Jun Anthony Bourdain (Writer, chef, TV Host) 61

15 Jun Nick Knox (Drummer, The Cramps) 60

24 Jun Stanley Anderson (Actor, The Drew Carey Show, Spiderman) 78

26 Jun Daniel Pilon (Actor, Dallas, Ryan’s Hope) 77

Joe Jackson

27 Jun Joe Jackson (Father of the Jackson Family, Manager of The Jacksons) 89

1 Jul Bruce Baker (Geneticist) 72

2 Jul Alan Longmuir (Bassist, Bay City Rollers) 70

5 Jul Jim Malloy (1964 Grammy award winning Recording engineer for Henry Mancini, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley) 87

7 Jul Alan Johnson (3-time Emmy award winning choreographer: The Producers, Young Frankenstein) 81

13 Jul Ray Frenette (Premier of New Brunswick, 1997-1998) 83

20 Jul Marcario Gomez Quibus (Movie poster artist for Some Like it Hot, The Ten Commandments, Psycho) 92

21 Jul Elmarie Wendel (Actress: 3rd Rock From The Sun, The Lorax) 89

24 Jul Archie Marr (Keyboardist, Bay City Rollers) 66

25 Jul Patrick Williams (Composer, Columbo, Mary Tyler Moore, Bob Newhart) 79

Gervase Markham

27 Jul Gervase Markham (British programmer, Mozilla). In his short life, graduated from Oxford, then became “Governator” of the Mozilla project by age 23. Aged 40.

5 Aug Charlotte Rae (Actress, Different Strokes, The Facts of Life, 101 Dalmatians: The Series) 92

7 Aug Stan Mikita (Hockey player, Chicago Black Hawks, Canadian Hockey Hall of Fame) 78

Mary Pratt

14 Aug Mary Pratt (Newfoundland Painter). Still life artist with a keen sense of light and form; survived by husband and artist Christopher Pratt. A googling for her image mostly brought up painting after painting. Aged 83.

Aretha Franklin

16 Aug Aretha Franklin (Vocalist, called The Queen of Soul, 18x Grammy Award winner) Aged 76.

19 Aug Kofi Anan (Secretary-General of the UN) 80

22 Aug Ed King (Guitarist, Lynyrd Skynyrd) 64

John McCain

25 Aug John McCain (American Navy Officer, Senator, Congressman, Presidential Candidate) Aged 81.

Neil Simon

26 Aug Neil Simon (Playwright, The Odd Couple, Screenwriter, The Goodbye Girl). Aged 91.

4 Sep Bill Daily (Supporting actor, I Dream of JeannieBob Newhart) 91

5 Sep Gilles Pelletier (played Father Leclerc in the film Jesus of Montreal) 93

6 Sep Richard DeVos (Co-founder of Amway) 92

6 Sep Thad Mumford (Producer and writer, Electric Company, MASH, The Cosby Show) 67

6 Sep Burt Reynolds (Smokie and the Bandit, Deliverance) 82

12 Sep Diane Leather (first woman to break the 5-minute mile) 85

23 Sep Gary Kurtz (Collaborated with George Lucas in Star Wars) 78

Marty Balin

29 Sep Marty Balin (a founding member of Jefferson Airplane). Age 76.

Peggy Sue Gerron

1 Oct Peggy Sue Gerron (Namesake of Buddy Holly hit Peggy Sue). Aged 78.

12 Oct Pik Botha (former South African president) 86

14 Oct Donald MacDonald (Canadian politician) 86

15 Oct Paul Allen (co-founder of Microsoft) 65

16 Oct Dennis Hof (Brothel owner, Restaurant owner, won Nevada’s election for 36th district after death on 7 Nov 2018) 72

23 Oct Louis O’Neill (Quebec politician and academic) 93

Hugh Mcdowell

6 Nov Hugh Mcdowell (cellist, Electric Light Orchestra). Aged 65

6 Nov Bernard Landry (former Quebec Premier, 2001-2003) 81

Stan Lee

12 Nov Stan Lee (Marvel Comics: Creator of: The Hulk, Thor, Spider Man) Aged 95

24 Nov Ray Hill (LGBT activist) 78

25 Nov Gloria Katz (screenwriter, Indiana Jones, American Graffiti) 76

26 Nov Bernardo Bertolucci (director, Last Tango in Paris, The Last Emperor) 77

George H W Bush

30 Nov George Herbert Walker Bush (former U. S. President, former CIA director). Aged 91.

7 Dec Victor “The Mascara Snake” Hayden (Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band) 70

7 Dec Paul Henderson (Pulitzer Prize (1982)) 79

9 Dec Lyudmila Alexeyeva (“grandmother” of the Russian human rights movement) 91

13 Dec Nancy Wilson (Jazz singer, Grammies in 1965, 2005, and 2007) 81

Penny Marshall

18 Dec Penny Marshall (“Laverne” of Laverne and Shirley, directed Big) 75

Scientific Linux

Scientific Linux is the Linux distribution used by CERN and Fermilabs, which I had the experience of installing on to a USB stick to see how it ran. The choice of a USB stick was for many reasons. For one, all my computers are running an installed OS I am happy with, and this was a good opportunity to experiment. Second, I was exploring the use of Scientific Linux for its math and science applications, and wondering if there was anything I can take advantage of.

Apart from being a creature of Fermilabs, Scientific Linux appears to be based on the RedHat RHEL distribution. CERN was also a collaborator, but decided later to move to CentOS, another RHEL-compatible distro.

To “see what I could take advantage of”, I chose the option where it would install as a workstation. I chose a couple of other options, such as office software and programming software, and selected my USB for installation, and it installed very slowly. The image I chose was their maximal-sized image, burned on to a Blu-ray disk, and then booted on to my laptop, which recognized my Blu-ray disk as a boot device.

The install took hours, even though I only chose the three options. When it was finally installed on to the USB, I booted, and saw that I just got a minimal GNOME desktop.  No toolbar, no menus, except for the short menu that offered things like an xterm. But there was no menu that listed the available windowed applications. This made it difficult to explore what unique apps are part of Scientific Linux, or to run an installer to find out what could be installed.

So, for my use case, that being installing on a bootable USB stick, it was a no-go.

More political articles on the Silent Majority

I believe the third time anyone writes an article on the same creepy topic, it is time either to cease and desist, or to make this into an ongoing series, embracing the concept whole.

Twice before, I have written with a straight face about how the dead participate in all parts of the electoral process, being both the voters, and those being voted on. And I have written more than once, that dead people have often win elections against their living opponents. While all this sounds both creepy and hilarious, these stories are utterly true. And before you think this is a liberal or conservative conspiracy, I also reiterate, that the dead benefit both sides of American politics. Since there are more dead people than living, we call them the real Silent Majority in this blog. We ought to root for them, since many of these are hard-working dead people who have never committed crimes, and don’t bother anyone.

After paying $1.50 for this issue of The Sun yesterday, I find that the cover story is an opinion piece.

Just yesterday in The Toronto Sun, the front page — yes, the front page, in the biggest screaming headlines you have ever seen in your life, decried the Liberal practice of leaving dead people on the voter rolls. So, now the silent majority have invaded the Canadian Liberal party, according to The Sun. While I understand that the Sun takes every opportunity to attack the Liberals, and have never met a politician to the right of Atilla the Hun they didn’t like, I have to say, the dead are not a voting block. I am certain that the list contains conservatives and liberals in fairly equal numbers. Regardless, no one can control the voting preferences of the Silent Majority, since you can’t speak to them, and they can’t speak to you. Even if you could speak to them, the Silent Majority will just vote as they damn well please. Or, do anything else they damn well please. You may have your perceptions and illusions about the Silent Majority, but we can both agree that you can’t tell them who to vote for. They just won’t listen, and you can’t change that.

You can call me a leading authority on the voting behavior of the Silent Majority. I have been observing them for quite a while now. And a good many years from now, I too will some day go to the Majority. To be honest, it’s pretty boring watching them, because I never see them move. I guess that’s part of their mystique.

Truth and Action

Pontius Pilate answered a life-and-death question with a question: “What is truth?” We recognize his response as a indecisiveness masking avoidance behaviour, since truth is well-defined, requiring evidence. Generally, even the answer to the question “What is truth?” needs argument and evidence.

But truth without evidence is undefinable. It can be anything we want it to be. “What is truth?”, asked as if truth were some abstraction, is a discussion that leads nowhere. Like watching shadows in a cave, we can never be sure what the substance of the shadow is doing if we don’t see it, but we can look to the shadow for evidence. True, we may get the wrong idea, but there’s a pretty good chance of getting most of it right. Our brains are wired to put such things together. And though our perceptions may be wrong sometimes, ignoring those perceptions and assimilations is normally seen as foolish and naive.

We can never see everything there is to see in life, but nevertheless, life expects us to make sense of the world around us given our limited perceptions and world view. And the critical decisions we make affecting our lives are almost never based on perfect information. But we often base decision on the degenerate data available, further informed by past experience, and often are expected to render such judgements, whether it is in our line of work, or our daily lives. More often than not, not deciding is often more damaging to one’s future than deciding. With a decision, at least you have a way to base a future plan for coping with any consequences. In life, there is no fence-sitting. Deciding not to decide is still a decision. And it is a decision with consequences.

 

Why are they still coming?

I noticed that the United States government has grown a lot more intolerant of newcomers to the country. The latest wave has to do with the perceived threat of the migrant caravan of people trying to leave Central America, and enter the United States as refugees through Mexico. I am pretty sure they already know Americans are not exactly going to roll out the red carpet for them. But the caravan is still coming nevertheless. They could face arrest, deportment, interrogation … I don’t think they care. They will stick it out it anyway.

You have to be pretty desperate to want to take risks of travelling mostly on foot for a 4300 km journey. Not just from the American Military. But the even bigger enemy would be the outdoor elements, and the predators that a hot, mountainous climate brings. The 5000 or so members of this caravan will be sure to dwindle in number as the rigors of the wildlife and the elements take their toll.

How the migration is being sold as an invasion…

After leaving Mexico City, they still have another 2700 km to travel. They will arrive tired, hungry, and some will be near death. Hardly a military threat. It’s a long way to go and a lot of danger to overcome, to be on the dole in America, or to be a terrorist, if we believe the stereotypes. It is not as if they are flying in or taking the train. They are pretty much all walking. This caravan is very slow-moving.

The 5000 refugees (counting men, women and children, assuming everyone makes it) will be met with 15,000 troops at the border, who see themselves as serving little or no military purpose. The troops will be there over Thanksgiving and will return on Dec 15, close to Christmas. For the Military to actually do their “military” thing, Trump will have to declare martial law. The lack of reason for being there is not a boost for troop morale. It is a hot climate at the border, and many troops already are protecting themselves from heat exhaustion by no longer wearing their armored vests or flak jackets, since they know they won’t need them anyway. Due to water shortages, their shower time is restricted to 7 minutes. Living conditions are similar to similar American bases in Afghanistan at the start of the millenium. Also scarce is electricity. Unlike Afghanistan, they are not expected to interact with the migrants, so they will not be receiving combat pay.

It would appear as if the $200 million dollars budgeted for sending these troops to camp out a the Mexican border was simply to satisfy Trump’s need for political theater before the midterms. Now that they have served their purpose, it is unclear how big a deal will Trump make of this from now.

“Why are they still coming?” can be asked of all immigrants from around the world, of which Trump has expressed an intolerance, or have written executive orders to block. One has to have desperation, and what they flee from is often far worse. The question is better asked: what American foreign policy (or foreign policy of Western Europe) is being pursued in south Asia, in the Middle East, in Africa, that make them come to the industrialized Western World in such large numbers over the past two or three decades? I am sure many of them would rather be home in their native culture, surrounded by their relatives and friends, and pursuing their living there.

Dennis Hof Joins Silent Majority, Takes Nevada by Landslide

Dennis Hof, Heidi Fleiss, Ron Jeremy (cropped).jpg
Dennis Hof

Dennis Hof (1946-2018) has been part of the Silent Majority for the past two weeks, and is now Republican Representative-elect of the 36th District of the State of Nevada House of Assembly. Readers of my website will know that this is not the first time a dead man has won an election. Indeed, dead people are an integral part of the American democratic system, either acting as voters, or those who are running for election. The dead cannot speak for themselves, and there are many more of them than us, hence the phrase “Silent Majority”.

The dead operate on both sides of the aisle, sometimes aiding Democrats, and sometimes aiding Republicans. Hof is a Republican, and Nevada law says that if a person joins the Silent Majoirty before taking office, a member of the same party must be appointed to take his or her place. It wasn’t too long ago that Mel Carnahan, a Democrat, back in 2000, won a Senate seat in Missouri, running against Republican John Ashcroft after joining the Silent Majority as the result of a plane crash.

Hof, among his many titles, owned several brothels where it was legal in Nevada to do so, and was the star of the reality HBO TV show Cathouse. He wrote an autobiography called The Art of the Pimp. All of this sounds vaguely familiar.

Before becoming Republican he was Libertarian and supported Ron Paul.

Hof was 72.

BOSE Sleep Buds, and a note about fraudulent websites

Bose Sleepbuds have helped me sleep this past week, so they appear to live up to the claim of using white noise and nature sounds to mask outside noises. The question is, was it really worth the $325 price tag?

Other reviewers have complained about the earbuds not fitting properly, despite the three sizes of earbud attachments that come with the device. Others have complained about the discomfort of trying to sleep with earbuds stuck in your ears all night. To the first charge (the price that is), it really comes down to how badly you want to have a good night’s sleep, and if it works for you, then it works.

To the discomfort issue, I must say that we all have different sized heads and ear canals. My buds weren’t exactly perfect, but they also weren’t totally uncomfortable. And it did make a difference in how I slept. The sleepbuds end your sleep with a pleasant sounding alarm, which woke me up feeling alert and relaxed.

I found that getting a full charge is not straightforward, unless you remove the buds from the earpieces each morning. If you try to connect the earbuds with their rubber earpieces still on, as depicted here in the ad (see left), it is not always guaranteed you will get good contact, and hence a full charge by the next evening. There were some mornings I woke up with the batteries nearly dead and the alarm didn’t go off.

Also, if you were expecting to go to sleep with your favourite music, then these buds are not for you. These buds only play the white noises/nature sounds programmed into them. They are essentially loops of shorter sounds set to repeat all night. The loops of leaves rustling or rain falling were more obvious, and were more annoying after I noticed it. The best sounds were the fairly uniform sounds, such as the airplane cabin, river sounds, warm static, waterfall, or ocean sounds.

The earbuds are not big enough to fit Bose’s noise-cancelling technology. Thus, they do not detect or cancel surrounding noise, if you were expecting it to. All they do is produce is a sound, which is designed to mask other sounds. The rubberized coverings over the earbuds are made to fit snugly into your ear canal, and act as another sound barrier as well as not falling out at night (they never did in my case, unless I chose to sleep on my side — I mostly sleep on my back).

I also found that the re-charging is often unreliable, and you have to be absolutely sure the contacts are engaged between the earbuds and the charger. I found that you need to check the screen that tells you the battery levels. It is charging both earbuds if both earbuds are not detected. This often takes a couple of extra minutes out of your morning. Before knowing this, I had taken my earbuds out of the charger at night, to find out that one of the earbuds could be as low as 1% charged.

Last night was the first time in a week without sleep buds, and I have to say I tossed and turned and woke up into the night, so the quality of my sleep did suffer without them. For me, the sleep buds was worth the money, despite its limitations.

I also want to say that fake Bose sites are out there. A couple of days ago, boseaen.com came up in a search engine with a high ranking, as a clearance house for Bose products. I saw sleep buds there for $69. Too good to be true, since these sleep buds have only been selling for the past couple of months. I even saw their uber-expensive aviation headset for $79. I know you can’t get those for under $1400 in Canada. I checked the WHOIS database on my shell account, and found that boseaen.com, while looking mighty convincing, is based in China. I called a local Bose retailer in the Toronto area, and he tells me they are a fraud. Nice to know, before you give them your credit card information, as well as other private information. If you find you have been scammed for any reason, and your credit card is involved, notify your credit card company as soon as possible, to have your card cancelled and issue a new one.

For the record, I purchased my sleepbuds from a real person at a real Bose store, located at Toronto Premium Outlets, an outdoor mall located in Halton Hills, north of Oakville on Regional Highway 3 (Trafalgar Road) and Steeles.